Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 4 April 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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Achieving Professional Goals:
Use of a Mixed Discourse in Interviews

Maya Khemlani David, Ph.D.
Usha Ong, M.A.


In multilingual Malaysia, using two or more languages in one's discourse has become a norm, be it in formal (see David, 2003 on code switching in Malaysian courts) and informal settings (see David, 2007 on code switching among Malay, Chinese and Indian Malaysian youth).

While purists, including political figures in the country, disparage the use of a mixed discourse especially when it entails the mix of Malay, the national language, with the other languages used in the country, this paper argues that the use of a mixed code, especially between the national language, Malay and the international language, English has become the sine qua non of language choice and is a strategy used to achieve certain professional objectives in business talk and professional interactions among the many ethnic groups in the country.

This paper focuses on interviews by journalists of local English dailies and examines the existence and frequency of use of a mixed code and the reasons for the mixed discourse between interviewers and interviewees. Code switching should no longer be viewed negatively as a strategy to overcome differences in levels of proficiency of the interlocutors involved. The analysis clearly shows that code switching is intentionally used to achieve professional objectives.

Keywords: code switching, mixed discourse, Malaysia, journalists


Code-switches in the Professional Domain: Previous Research in Malaysia

David (1999) explains that the use of two or more codes or languages in an utterance has become a feature in the Malaysian repertoire of languages, because of its associations with status, ingroup solidarity and differing linguistic skills. In the legal setting, David (2003) showed that code-switches are used by lawyers to achieve a certain effect for instance to reprimand and in this way to display power (usually by judges to lawyers and/or by lawyers to witnesses).

Code-switches are also used extensively in the corporate entity, as professionals have to accommodate their clients' needs. Although Nambiar (1999) did not study code-switches per se in her study of the strategies of negotiations between bankers and loan applicants in Malaysia, her data revealed that the choices of codes used by both parties reflected accommodation. The selection of a code that is likely to be perceived as distancing could be detrimental to a bank's corporate targets.

In the civil service, Jariah Mohd Jan (2003) who focuses on gender discourse, showed that interlocutors code-switch between English and Malay in formal governmental meetings in Kuala Lumpur. Malay was used by a Malay high ranking civil servant to display power over non-Malay subordinates.

In the Malaysian corporate domain, Morais (1990) claims that code-switching is found at every level of the hierarchy, although it is more pronounced in the middle (executive and supervisory) and lower (workers) levels. She reports that members of all local ethnic groups alternate between Malay and English in heterogeneous group interactions. However, Chinese and Indians switch to their native languages when interacting with members of their own ethnic groups (p. 4). Interestingly, Swedish managers in the car company surveyed alternate between English and Swedish even in the presence of local Malaysian managers. This may indicate that the Swedish managers sometimes wish to keep private certain issues.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

The Influence of First Language Grammar (L1) on the English Language (L2) Writing of Tamil School Students: A Case Study from Malaysia | Economic Hardship and Emotional Humiliation in Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable | Effects of Using Urdu Dictionary as a Teaching Tool for Teaching Urdu in Urdu Language Classroom in Pakistan | Acoustic Correlates of Stress in Mizo, a Tonal Language | Racism and the American Dream in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men | Stimulating Language Strategies through Thinking - Help for Slow Learners | Masses as the True Makers of History - Analysis of the Play The Trial of Dedan Mimathi | Personal and Labour Market Environment Factors in English for Employability: A Case Study of KSA | A Study of the Reported Language Skill Development Strategies of the Student Teachers in Pakistan | Strategies for Communication Skills Development | Schema in Learning | Achieving Professional Goals: Use of a Mixed Discourse in Interviews | The Reality in Langston Hughes' Poems | Techniques to Teach Vocabulary to Regional Medium Students | Life History of Buddha as Reflected in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha | Technique as Voyage of Discovery: A Study of the Techniques in Dante's Paradiso | Some Gaps in the Current Studies of Reading in Second/Foreign Language Learning | Unmasking Student Competence: Using Computers to Teach Writing | Feminist Literary Criticism | Amy Tan and Chinese American Literature | An Acoustic Analysis of Glottal Fricative [h] at Word Medial and Final Positions:
A Comparison between Regular and Non-regular Urdu Speakers of Pakistan
| Teaching Writing Skills | Self-esteem of Institutionalised Elderly Women in Coimbatore - A Case History | An Assessment on Women's Work Participation and Economic Equality | Economics of Crime : A Comparative Analysis of the Socio-Economic Conditions of Convicted Female and Male Criminality in Selected Prisons in Tamil Nadu | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF APRIL 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of April 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Maya Khemlani David, Ph.D.
Faculty of Languages and Linguistics
University of Malaya
50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Usha Ong, M.A.
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